eXtensions - Thursday 23 February 2017
Cassandra: Thursday Review - WWD, Apple Park, Airpods and BeatsX, iPhone Rumors and Foxconn Staffing
By Graham K. Rogers
One of the things I noticed was that in the outline information that Apple had online, there was no mention of macOS or related technologies, although iOS, Swift, WatchOS and others were mentioned. Early days yet, but one has to ask is this a mobile devices-only WWDC; is there something behind the scenes; or is macOS the silent partner now? I hope not.
The move to San Jose is interesting as this is where Apple used to have its events: not that I have ever been there. I have only been to Cupertino once. But with the proximity to Apple's HQ, this will make it easier for Apple staff to travel back home each evening. Some wondered early on if there was a chance that there could be visits - or even events - at the new Campus 2 and that became slightly more possible yesterday with an announcement from Apple about the opening up of the new 175-acre establishment.
Artist's Impression: Steve Jobs Theater - Image courtesy of Apple
Apple Park will also include a visitors center with an Apple Store and café open to the public, a 100,000-square-foot fitness center for Apple employees, secure research and development facilities and the Steve Jobs Theater. The parklands offer two miles of walking and running paths for employees, plus an orchard, meadow and pond within the ring's interior grounds.
There are some who still crave a crossover device; a hybrid iOS/macOS-capable computer that either runs iOS on a Mac, or both operating systems, or some other combination so that users feel they can safely dump Macs and move totally to hand-held devices.
A local user sent me a link to a Verge article on an interesting development from Chinese company Jide who have Android-based software, called Remix OS, "that will live on smartphones but be capable of powering Android-based PCs" (James Vincent).
You can already connect an iPhone or iPad to a monitor and I do this often. There is also a way to link a wireless keyboard (or there is the keyboard of the iPad Pro), but the mouse is something else. I don't actually use a mouse and prefer a trackpad for the Mac mini I have, but I am not everyone.
I must admit I am a bit ambivalent about this, and don't mind which platform I am working on - well, not Android or Windows of course - but others seem to want this bridge device. I do see the sense of making the smartphone the primary device and doing everything with that: that is pretty much how I operate now with the iPhone and iPad Pro, alternating with the Mac using applications and iCloud to synchronize files. Others have expressed strong wishes for some way to add mouse functions to iOS. We shall see.
Apple AirPods are still quite rare in Bangkok and I have only seen one other user wearing them: a young man in Siam Paragon. I have had the AirPods in my hands (or in my ears) since they first arrived in Thailand in the middle of December. I am constantly surprised by the number of online comments from those who do not use these concerning how easy they think it is for them to fall out.
Not once in the last 2 months (apart from when I rubbed my hair with a towel) has there been any hint of these coming loose. Indeed, they sit better in the ear, and stay more securely, than the EarBuds I had before. I have ridden motorcycles, run up escalators, stood in strong winds (this time of year the wind fairly whips through the condo if I have all the windows open) and never felt that there was a problem. With the EarPods, the drag of the cable would interfere when I turned my head and that could loosen the ear-piece. Not happening with the AirPods.
The one thing that may not work so well, is Siri, but then I never had much success with this feature with the EarPods, on the iPhone or (now) on the Mac; and we are not allowed to use Siri here with the AppleTV. Most days I can connect the AirPods with a terse, "Radio. Alternative", but for anything after that it is random success.
I will have a chance next week to try the new BeatsX Earphones. I ordered these in Blue (because I could) on 10 February and was warned then about 10 business days for the order to be processed. Today is actually 9 days and an email from Apple this morning told me they would be delivered on 27th (DHL-willing I suppose). Right now they are still in Singapore.
The expertise here suggests that Apple is working seriously on incorproating intelligent responses into devices that are being (or will be) produced and some rumours recently put forward the idea that the next iPhones will have some of this special sauce.
Of course that does not stop criticism before the release with Business Insider gallantly coming to the fore with the suggestion that all the technology that will be in the next iPhone will already be in other smartphones. A read of the article suggests that Stephen Nellis still needs to learn a bit about Apple (hint: start with the processor). Well, Apple does tend to consolidate: to make things run properly and better.
But all the technology? . . .
Foxconn is apparently rush recruiting staff, particularly at the graduate level as thousands are leaving. An AppleInsider blog comment points out that "protections demanded by Apple for assemblers of its products aren't necessarily extended to employees if they move to another company's products (my italics), inducing the departures."
I wonder who those other companies are? Perhaps the NYTimes could start an investigation.
Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand. He wrote in the Bangkok Post, Database supplement on IT subjects. For the last seven years of Database he wrote a column on Apple and Macs. He is now continuing that in the Bangkok Post supplement, Life. He can be followed on Twitter (@extensions_th)
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